Napoleon Nelson, State Rep. 154th

Napoleon Nelson

Age (as of Election Day)

40

Position Sought

Pennsylvania State House of Representatives 154

Party Affiliation

Democrat

Family

Shareese, 2 children – son and a daughter

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?

I am the elected Finance Officer for Cheltenham township.

Education

MIT graduated 2002, Wharton MBA graduated 2007

Occupation

Finance Officer for Cheltenham township

Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office

Cheltenham Finance Officer (2018-present, elected)
Trustee for Montgomery County Community College (2018-present, appointed)
Cheltenham School Board (2011-2017, elected for two terms)

Campaign website

www.napoleonfor154.com

Why are you seeking elective office?

Our campaign platform is anchored in fighting for public education, community investment and real tax reform, but we know that there is far more work to do. I will fight for middle class families and workers, small businesses, minority communities, and all those that Harrisburg has ignored for so long. I am a champion for the role Government is supposed to play in our lives.

The single most pressing issue facing our state/nation is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.

The single most pressing issue facing our state and nation is the faith, expectation, and implementation of our Democracy. From gerrymandering to our low ethical expectations of elected officials to our poor off-year voting trends, to just the way we talk about those on the other side of the isle, our execution of Democracy is NOT moving us forward. We are not prepared to handle our environmental crisis or to adequately educate our children. We are not prepared for health pandemics, global leadership, or to control the traffic along our streets. When elected, I will support the drawing of fair districts, invest state funds in support of local journalism, advance civics curriculum in our schools, higher staff from both parties and from backgrounds that reflect the diversity of the 154th to my team, and champion progressive solutions not just here in our district, but all across the state of Pennsylvania.

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

I am the only candidate in this race with experience in education system governance. I am the only candidate in this race with significant insight into the impact of our tax policies on seniors, businesses, and every other resident. I am also the only elected official from the largest municipality in this district and have been elected township wide three times.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform

My top three platform priorities are:

Safe, equitable, rigorous and fully funded public schools.

Tax reform that protects seniors and small businesses instead of industrial polluters and internet giants.

Investing in our communities with legislation to reduce inequalities based on race, religion, and socio-economic status. This includes improving healthcare access, social justice, protecting our civil rights, and dealing with the existential threat of this climate crisis.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

I am proud of what I have already done to help my community. Within my educational governance roles, we have built new schools, invested in innovative programs and instruction, crafted discipline and policing policies that were more responsive to the expectations of students, and passed policies that demonstrate first-rate fiscal governance. In the tax office, we just wrapped up a phenomenal year with outstanding collection rates, and more importantly, we are providing more resources to residents and businesses than ever before. We’re not just talking about what we can do to help, but we’re executing.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, I redirected my campaign staff to identify and address the needs of residents, non-profits and businesses across the 154th district. We now hold weekly Business Roundtables, host a Facebook group to facilitate the identification of needs and solutions, and work on a daily basis to facilitate solutions for residents that need assistance. I have spent the past several weeks working behind the scenes with the County Commissioners, the county solicitor’s office, the leadership at Montgomery County Community College, and our local elected officials and we are finally seeing movement on local property and business tax extensions! COVID-19 is having a significant health and economic impact on our communities. I am happy to have worked with our governing partners to respond to the needs of our community during this time. On Thursday the 26th, the Cheltenham and Springfield Township Boards of Commissioners extended local tax deadlines.

The best advice ever shared with me was …

My grandfather would always tell me to “Do good, no matter who is looking.”

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

Public policy and governance is about serving your community. As an African American man from Philadelphia who is raising a family in Cheltenham, I am deeply connected to a community that spans from Southwest Philadelphia to Montgomery County. Serving this community demands that we focus on how we educate and nurture our children to achieve successful adult lives, how we care for our seniors, and how we establish a social safety network that meets the needs of vulnerable community members. We need policy makers who are dedicated to supporting small business owners who must care for their children and aging parents, families struggling with healthcare challenges and are facing bankruptcy and homelessness, residents who struggle with crumbling infrastructure and communities that need to broaden the tax base with development projects that serve comprehensive community rather than special interests. I recently spoke with a WWII veteran living in an assisted living facility that no longer serves fresh food on clean dishes or maintains a staff who monitor medications in a safe manner. I also spoke with residents concerned with delays to road and gas pipeline work that impacts the livability of their neighborhoods and business development plans that would expand the tax base but cause excessive congestion.

I will advocate for access to quality preschool, full day kindergarten for all students, and 21st century K-12 public schools that incorporate support for students living with mental health challenges, learning differences, hunger and homelessness with qualified teachers and counselors from diverse backgrounds.

My policy priorities for seniors involve advocating for health outcomes, transportation, tax reforms, and enforcement of licensing and inspections to ensure the safety and security of our most vulnerable in assisted living and nursing homes.

My civil rights and criminal justice reform policies will promote significant reforms to protect voting rights, reform bail and pre-trial detention for indigent defendants, establish community policing initiatives that ensure accountability and transparency in police conduct and eliminate profiling, incorporate police collaboration with broad based social service agencies to reduce over policing.

My top three policy initiatives once elected are:

Establish a pipeline of mental health, school nurses, diverse educators, skilled laborers, and other positions of need that recruits from early high school years and ends with scholarships and loan forgiveness.

Establish a property tax freeze for seniors across the state and build a rebate program for low income individuals that ties their tax rebate to a share of their assets.

Expand the definition of local business presence (or nexus) to close the significant loopholes that allow internet and cellular businesses to avoid paying the same local taxes that our small local businesses must pay.

This article originally appeared on the Abington Patch